When "It happens" we can help. Free phone consultation. Make the call today: 972-559-4548

When "It Happens" we can help. We will be happy to discuss your situation. The phone consultation is free so make the call today: 972-559-4548

State Bar of Texas

Subscribe to State Bar of Texas feed
News on the Lawyers and Legal Professionals of Texas
Updated: 2 hours 28 min ago

State Bar of Texas Government Law Council names Victor A. Flores 2021 Rising Advocate in Government Law

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 12:22

The State Bar of Texas Government Law Council named Victor A. Flores, of Brownsville, as its 2021 Rising Advocate in Government Law Award recipient during the 33rd annual Advanced Government Law Seminar.

The award recognizes a Texas lawyer who is employed by a government entity and has made outstanding contributions to the practice of government law and serving the public.

Flores is an attorney with the Brownsville City Attorney’s Office. He was also recognized for his contributions as a speaker and author at various statewide seminars for attorneys practicing government law.

He has served as legal counsel to several communities in south and north Texas. He is also a past president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. For the past four years, Flores has authored an article on government law for the Texas Bar Journal’s annual Year in Review feature.

Dallas Bar Association names Cheryl Wattley as Trial Lawyer of the Year

Thu, 07/29/2021 - 14:44

The Dallas Bar Association named Cheryl Wattley as the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, to be presented at the DBA’s Bench Bar Conference in Horseshoe Bay on November 4.

The award is given annually to the DBA member who best exemplifies the noble principles of the legal profession.

Wattley, a professor at UNT Dallas College of Law, worked with non-governmental organizations through the International Human Rights Clinic to provide shadow reports in relation to countries’ mandatory human rights reports to the United Nations. The work of her students contributed to an amendment to a Central American country’s education statutes to remove corporal punishment for indigenous students as allowable discipline.

Wattley also does pro bono work with Centurion Ministries, a nonprofit dedicated to the vindication of the wrongly convicted, which led to the recent release of Benjamine Spencer after 34 years in a Texas penitentiary.

For more information about the Dallas Bar Association, go to dallasbar.org.

Past State Bar President James Branton dies at 83

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 10:00

James L. Branton, 83, of San Antonio, died July 19, 2021. He served as president of the State Bar of Texas from 1994 to 1995.

Branton was co-founder of Branton, Hall, Rodriguez, Cruz, where he focused primarily on personal injury litigation. He served on the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors from 1984 to 1987, was on the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1990 and served as its chair from 1989 to 1990. Branton also served as treasurer for the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism. He was a Texas Board of Legal Specialization director from 1990 to 1993.

During Branton’s term as president, he focused on attorney image and professionalism, with an emphasis on implementing the Texas Lawyer’s Creed on its fifth anniversary. He also advocated for a higher level of professionalism between attorneys that would “reduce[] acrimony and increase[] communication between lawyers.”

Branton served on the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee, State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee, the State Bar of Texas Pattern Jury Charge Committee, and the State Bar of Texas Administration of Justice Committee.

He served on the Texas Supreme Court committees that drafted the Texas Evidence Code and the Texas Lawyer’s Creed. Branton was a Texas Lawyers Insurance Exchange director and member of the Executive Committee. He was a Texas Bar Foundation life fellow and chair of the board of trustees from 1989 to 1990.

In 1994, Branton was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the eight Texas Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and in 2017, the State Bar of Texas Litigation Section awarded him the Luther Soules III Award for Outstanding Service to the Practice of Law.

Branton was a past president of the San Antonio Bar Association, San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, International Society of Barristers, and American Board of Trial Advocates San Antonio Chapter. He was a founding member of the Texas-Mexico Bar Association in 1994.

Branton was certified in personal injury trial law and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and certified as a civil trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

State Bar Paralegal Division elects new officers, board of directors

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:58

2021-22 Paralegal Division officers and directors.

The State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division has elected the following members to its officer positions and board of directors for the 2021-22 bar year:

Officers

Susi Boss – President

Lisa Pittman – President Elect

Alice Lineberry – Secretary

Eugene Alcala – Treasurer

Shannon Shaw – Parliamentarian

 

Board of Directors:

District 1 – Kim Goldberg

District 2 – Eugene Alcala

District 3 – Wayne Baker

District 4 – Alice Lineberry

District 5 – Pearl Garza

District 7 – Erica Anderson

District 10 – Shannon Shaw

District 11 – Stacey Marquet

District 12 – Pam Snavely

District 14 – Shannon Happney

District 15 – Georgina Guzman

District 16 – Vacant

PD Coordinator – Rhonda Brashears

Sponsored Content: An Introduction: Cloud Document Management

Tue, 07/20/2021 - 23:01

“You can’t fight gravity.” That’s what Andy Jassy says about moving to the cloud. And as the guy who’s taking the Amazon CEO reins from Jeff Bezos, he knows a thing or two.

But for legal professionals, adopting cloud-based tools is easier said than done. With constant competing demands most lawyers and in-house counsel face, you might be thinking, can any software actually make a difference?

Our answer: absolutely. But don’t just take our word for it.

Instead, we aim to help demystify the cloud, give tangible information and help navigate your understanding of the cloud.

Ready? Let’s get started.

What is cloud document management?

Generally, document management systems (DMS) refer to the tools and processes your organization uses to store and manage documents. Historically, companies have used on-premises systems, file shares, and even their email inboxes to locate, organize, and share important documents.

Unfortunately, these outdated and ad hoc approaches often lack the security, functionality, and ease-of-use that modern business users need.

But thankfully, there’s a better way.

Cloud-based document management offers law firms and legal teams the best of both worlds: robust productivity-boosting tools with increased security and governance controls.

Cloud-based versus ‘on-prem’ document management systems

Before we go any further, it may help to clarify the difference between on-premises solutions and cloud document management.

The key difference is that on-prem solutions require you to purchase and maintain in-house server hardware, software licenses, security systems, and IT personnel. You have control (and responsibility) over every component.

Cloud solutions (a.k.a. software-as-a-service, or SaaS) take care of the heavy lifting for you. There’s no hardware or software to purchase. You pay monthly user fees and access the DMS platform via the internet. The additional advantage? A dedicated support team, versus needing internal IT bandwidth and resources.

Be warned: Some cloud DMS platforms are actually on-prem systems in disguise. Make sure you understand the core architecture behind any DMS you consider.

Is using cloud computing in law ethical?

Given the often-confidential nature of legal work, you may be wondering whether it’s even ethical for legal professionals to use third-party cloud providers. Check out what Bar Associations and Law Societies within the US and around the world have to say in their ethics opinions on cloud computing.

Some skepticism is understandable, the reality is that cloud solutions can be used as long as you do the appropriate due diligence and choose a provider that complies with your ethical duties.

Common misconceptions about cloud DMS

Although cloud-based software is quickly becoming the norm for most businesses, there are still some common misconceptions that keep legal teams from claiming all the benefits it offers.

Myth #1: The cloud is less secure.

Just because it’s called ‘the cloud’ doesn’t mean it goes soft on security. Cloud document management can actually be more secure than on-premises solutions.

Myth #2: It’s too expensive.

We get it: switching to a new system might seem like a big investment. But the truth is, not switching to the cloud could be even more costly.

Myth #3: The cloud won’t be as important after the pandemic.

Let’s be clear: Remote work is here to stay. Flexible work is a top priority for in-demand professionals, and the growing younger workforce. It’s a perk you can’t afford to drop.

While we’ve given you an introduction to the cloud, there’s much more to understand about the benefits cloud-based DMS provides, the problems and challenges it solves, and how to ensure your firm is getting the best cloud document management solution.

Get to know the cloud.

If you want to solidify your understanding of the cloud, check out our recent webinar on this topic, What Is the Cloud Anyway?featuring cloud experts Kelly Plunkett and Scott Barnhill who break down the foundational elements of cloud technology —and how it can advance your team’s competitive advantage.

 

Houston Bar Association celebrates achievements at annual dinner

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 14:13

The Houston Bar Association welcomed 2021-2022 President Jennifer A. Hasley and recognized outstanding service by members at its annual dinner on July 15.

David J. Beck, founding partner in Beck Redden, received the Justice Eugene A. Cook Professionalism Award, and Susan L. Bickley, a partner in Blank Rome, received the Justice Ruby Kless Sondock Award.

2020-2021 President Bill Kroger presented Special Recognition Awards for exemplary service to the legal profession and community to Dean Michael F. Barry, of South Texas College of Law Houston; Dean Joan R.M. Bullock, of Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law; and Dean Leonard M. Baynes, of the University of Houston Law Center, for leadership in legal education and community engagement.

Committees honored for their achievements in 2020-2021 were the Bench Bar Conference Committee, County Law Library Committee, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Fun Run Committee, Gender Fairness Committee, The Houston Lawyer Editorial Board, Implicit Bias Task Force, Law Week Committee, and LegalLine Committee.

For more information about the Houston Bar Association, go to hba.org.

State Bar of Texas will not seek rehearing of 5th Circuit panel decision

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 11:39

The State Bar of Texas will not seek rehearing of a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel opinion that upheld the constitutionality of most challenged State Bar activities and left intact the structure of the mandatory bar.

State Bar leaders announced the decision after the bar’s Board of Directors met Monday to consult outside counsel on the McDonald v. Sorrels litigation.

“We are pleased that the 5th Circuit panel upheld the constitutionality of nearly all of the State Bar of Texas programs and activities challenged by the plaintiffs,” State Bar of Texas President Sylvia Borunda Firth said. “Today the State Bar will inform the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals it will not be filing a petition for panel rehearing or a petition for rehearing en banc. We look forward to getting back to the trial court to bring this litigation to a conclusion.”

Three Texas lawyers sued the State Bar of Texas in March 2019 claiming that under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus decision, it is unconstitutional for an attorney to be required to join the State Bar of Texas to practice law. The plaintiffs also challenge bar programs they claim exceed the bar’s “core regulatory functions.”

In May 2020, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel granted the State Bar’s cross-motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the 5th Circuit.

On July 2, 2021, a panel of the 5th Circuit issued its opinion, upholding the constitutionality of the vast majority of the challenged State Bar programs and activities, including the bar’s CLE and annual meeting programming, diversity initiatives, the Texas Bar Journal, and the bulk of its access to justice initiatives.

The panel found parts of the State Bar’s and Texas Access to Justice Commission’s legislative efforts were not germane to the bar’s purposes of regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services available to Texans, and therefore use of mandatory dues for those efforts violates the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs. The panel also found the bar’s procedures are not sufficient to allow members to challenge activities they believe to be nongermane.

The panel vacated the district court’s summary judgment, rendered partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and remanded the case for the district court to determine the full scope of relief to which the plaintiffs are entitled.

The court also granted a preliminary injunction preventing the State Bar from requiring the three plaintiffs to join or pay dues pending completion of the remedies phase before the district court on remand. The injunction does not prevent the State Bar of Texas from requiring membership of, or collecting dues from, other bar members.

The 5th Circuit panel opinion does not change the longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedent that supports the mandatory bar. The opinion also does not undermine the fundamental structure and purposes of the State Bar of Texas, which was established by the Texas Legislature in aid of the Texas Supreme Court’s inherent authority to regulate the practice of law.

The Texas case is one of many federal lawsuits filed across the country in recent years against mandatory bars. Read filings from these cases on the State Bar of Texas website at texasbar.com/mcdonaldvsorrels.

In Memoriam – June 2021

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 14:00

The State Bar of Texas’ Membership Department was informed in June 2021 of the deaths of these members. We join the officers and directors of the State Bar in expressing our deepest sympathy.

Robert Bennett Jr., 82, of Sugar Land, died June 21, 2021. He received his law degree from George Washington University Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1965.
Anderson L. Carper, 63, of Durango, Colorado, died April 19, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1983.
S.H. Cavin, 90, of Roswell, New Mexico, died January 16, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1953.
William Delano Jr., 74, of San Antonio, died September 18, 2019. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1975.
Cecil A. Edwards Jr., 89, of Phoenix, Arizona, died February 3, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1963.
John W. Elder, 94, of Houston, died September 16, 2020. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1987.
Abelardo Flores, 85, of Duncanville, died May 28, 2020. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1971.
James E. Gibson, 79, of Plano, died May 21, 2019. He received his law degree from Stetson University College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1984. Gibson was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1983.
Gregory B. Keys, 66, of Spring, died April 2, 2021. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1994.
James Howard Koehn, 77, of Austin, died February 3, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1968.
James Wesley McDonald, 80, of Crane, died March 10, 2021. He received his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1972.
Linda L.S. Moroney, 77, of Houston, died April 20, 2021. She received her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1982.
Fred V. Norris, 63, of Laredo, died June 9, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1983.
James Parnell, 57, of Fort Worth, died April 5, 2021. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1991.
Charles R. Phillips, 87, of Houston, died December 26, 2020. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1972.
Phillip Reese Spicer Jr., 68, of San Antonio, died July 17, 2020. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1977.
Ellen Wilson, 35, of Longview, died April 30, 2021. She received her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2010.
Kurt A. Wimmer, 62, of Washington, D.C., died April 4, 2021. He received his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1988. Wimmer was admitted to practice in Kansas in 1987.

If you would like to have a memorial for a loved one published in the Texas Bar Journal, please go to texasbar.com/memorials. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Texas Bar Journal at 512-427-1701 or toll-free at 800-204-2222, ext. 1701.

Sponsored Content: A No-Fail Process for Improving Your Law Firm

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 23:01

If you’re a law firm owner, partner or solo, you might be familiar with the nagging feeling that you’re missing opportunities to improve your practice.

But you’re an attorney not a technology guru, and you’re busy, so evaluating the myriad opportunities seems daunting. That’s a sentiment we hear regularly from legal professionals we talk to about their challenges with routine legal drafting.

When you’re trying to decide whether legal technology is right for you, there’s one simple rule to keep in mind: Fall in love with the problem.

Focus on the Problem

Before evaluating potential technology for your practice, make a list of the problems you need to solve. It’s tempting to do the opposite. Whenever you attend a legal conference or check your email, there are lots of shiny “solutions” vying for attention.

But if you want to ensure you and your team will benefit from a change, start with your problem:

  1. Walk to the nearest whiteboard or use sticky notes to brain-dump everything that drives you nuts at work. Client communication, court filings, document drafting, accounts payable, etc. Be specific.
  2. Prioritize these problems using a simple rubric. Identify what makes a problem more of a priority. Would solving it bring new revenue? Do clients see the problem? Decide which factors move the needle for you and score the problems on your wall. Use stars, dots or pins to call out a problem’s significance. The problem with the most points should be solved first.
  3. Now it’s time to brainstorm again. Imagine possible solutions to your problem. Are there low-cost solutions? People-intensive solutions? Technology? Create new sticky notes with every possible solution to your biggest problem.
  4. Then repeat the process to prioritize solutions. Maybe you pin solutions that are cheap. Maybe you give points to the easiest to implement? Now you have one solution that ties back to one problem.
  5. With solution in hand, set a deadline and identify an advocate. You need one person who owns the process. Getting through the next phase takes work, but the long-term value is worth it. We’re talking about improving your firm, after all.

A Sample Problem/Solution Pair

At most practices, it’s not hard to imagine a full wall of frustrations:

  • You’re spending too much time drafting documents
  • Courts require timely filings but send back documents for vague reasons
  • You can’t collect on hours or bill for flat-fee projects as cases wait for updates
  • Clients are mad that someone else’s name appeared in a footer
  • You’re worried about creating accurate documents but feel stretched too thin

Of all the possible problems, you decide to focus on quality control. You’re most afraid of embarrassing errors causing issues with current clients.

With one problem on the board, you brainstorm solutions:

  • You could create every document yourself rather than delegating
  • You could hire expensive help to produce custom documents for every client
  • You could incorporate document automation into your practice

If you prioritized a low-cost solution that lets you keep control of your processes and assure quality, you might move the “document automation” sticky note to the top.

With your problem/solution pair, you could start to evaluate different solutions and identify the products you’ll consider.

Shiny objects won’t solve problems on their own. They’re only tools. A hammer won’t tell you where to put a nail. Only the problem that drove you nuts in the first place can guide you effectively.

Problem by problem, you’ll change your practice for the better.

Candidates sought for 2022 State Bar of Texas president-elect race

Mon, 07/12/2021 - 06:00

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors is soliciting candidates for the 2022 president-elect race.

State Bar rules stipulate that all potential candidates for 2022 president-elect shall come from nonmetropolitan counties of the state (all counties except Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Travis). Any member of the State Bar who meets the eligibility requirements for officers set forth in the State Bar Act and the State Bar rules is eligible for nomination for president-elect.

The board of directors policy manual describes the criteria for selecting nominees. The board will consider potential nominees’ involvement as a member of the board or in State Bar committee work, knowledge of State Bar operations, participation in local and specialty bar associations, and other activities demonstrating leadership ability and sincere interest and competence in dealing with issues concerning the State Bar of Texas.

Potential nominees should submit a resume and a statement of their views on the key issues facing the bar, the role they would play in dealing with those issues, and what they would seek to accomplish during their tenure as president, all within the overall strategic plan of the State Bar.

Any other qualified member shall also be privileged to stand for election to that office as a candidate when a written petition, in a form prescribed by the board and signed by no less than 5% of the active members of the State Bar who are in good standing, is filed by or on behalf of such member with the executive director on or before March 1 preceding the election for the ensuing organizational year and such petition is certified by the executive director. State Bar rules state that a petition signature is invalid if it is not dated or the signer signed the petition before September 1 of the year before the election.

The board’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee is accepting names of and background information for potential candidates.

Please write the subcommittee to recommend potential candidates.

c/o John Charles “Charlie” Ginn and Larry P. McDougal,
Nominations and Elections Subcommittee Co-Chairs
P.O. Box 12487
Austin, TX 78711-2487
ray.cantu@texasbar.com

Anyone submitting a name for consideration should first obtain that person’s consent.

State Bar Board of Directors to hold special meeting July 19

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 16:40

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors will hold a special-called meeting at 9 a.m. CDT on July 19 to receive a report from outside counsel on the McDonald v. Sorrels lawsuit and recent Fifth Circuit panel decision.

The meeting will be held virtually. All State Bar members and the public may watch the meeting on the State Bar of Texas YouTube channel. To sign up to speak during the meeting, please email amy.starnes@texasbar.com or call (800) 204-2222, ext. 1706 (toll free) before 5 p.m. CDT on July 16. Written comments may be sent to boardofdirectors@texasbar.com and must be received before 5 p.m. on July 15 for timely distribution to the directors.

View the full agenda here.

Appellate Section presents Appellate Advocacy Awards to law students

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 13:27

The State Bar of Texas Appellate Section gave Excellence in Appellate Advocacy Awards to nine graduating Texas law school students.

The Advocacy Awards recognize law students who showed excellence and career promise in appellate advocacy, based on the recommendations from their law schools.

Award recipients are Andrew Swallows, of Baylor Law School; Blake Glatstein, of SMU Dedman School of Law; Javier Gonzalez, of South Texas College of Law Houston; Melissa Sharon Fullmer, of St. Mary’s University School of Law; Rolando Reyna Jr., of Texas A&M University School of Law; Sara Baumgardner, of Texas Tech University School of Law; Mariah Zenrene Noyola, of Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Kade Beyer, of the University of Houston Law Center; and Elizabeth Hamilton, of the University of Texas School of Law.

Tarrant County Bar to host conversation on LGBTQ awareness and inclusion

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 16:09

The Tarrant County Bar Association will host a conversation on LGBTQ awareness and inclusion as part of its SIDE Bar (Striving for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity inside the Bar) Conversation Series at noon CDT on June 24 via Zoom.

In recognition of Pride Month, leaders fighting for LGBTQ rights and inclusion will discuss the LGBTQ lawyer’s experience, the development of the law over the years, and ways to create a more inclusive bar. Co-moderators for the conversation are Paul Balanon, senior general attorney at BNSF Railway Company, and Spencer Mainka, an associate attorney at Pham Harrison. Other panelists are attorney and mediator John Barnes and Brad Sears, founding executive director of UCLA School of Law-The Williams Institute.

The event is free and open to the public. Register at tarrantbar.org/SIDEbar10.

The conversation series is co-hosted by the L. Clifford Davis Legal Association and Black Women Lawyers Association.

State Bar Board of Directors to meet June 16 and 17

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 17:49

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors will meet June 16 and 17 at the Austin Marriott Downtown, 304 E. Cesar Chavez St., in Austin. Members and the public may attend in person to provide comment to the board by filling out a speaker card at the beginning of the meetings and submitting it to a staff member onsite. The meetings will be broadcast live on the State Bar of Texas YouTube channel.

June 16 – meeting begins at 1 p.m.
Among items on the agenda are:

9d. Report of the Task Force on Public Protection, Grievance Review, and the Client Security Fund.

9f. Report of the Workgroup on Texas Lawyer Needs Arising from the 2020 Pandemic and 2021 Winter Storm.

10(1) and (2). Discuss and consider action on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force report.

12b(1) and (2). Discuss and consider amendments to the State Bar of Texas Board Policy Manual.

View the full agenda here. Materials for the meeting can be found here.

June 17 – meeting begins at 9 a.m.
Among items on the agenda are:

6a. b. and c. Swearing in of the incoming chair of the board, president-elect, and new directors.

9. Discussion: Texas Access to Justice Commission

View the full agenda here.

In Memoriam – May 2021

Wed, 06/09/2021 - 14:22

The State Bar of Texas’ Membership Department was informed in May 2021 of the deaths of these members. We join the officers and directors of the State Bar in expressing our deepest sympathy.

Gayle Miller Albritton, 82, of Rockwall, died January 24, 2021. She received her law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1969.
Randall Blair Ashby, 69, of Houston, died March 19, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1979.
Robert D. Avery, 68, of Jefferson, died May 4, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1979. Avery was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1978.
Richard Bachert, 75, of Livingston, died May 30, 2019. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1974.
James C. Baker, 61, of Dallas, died August 28, 2020. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1983.
Sybil Balasco, 97, of Houston, died April 2, 2021. She received her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1956.
Darwin Buford Barnes, 68, of Pasadena, died November 4, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2005.
James W. Beard Jr., 78, of Missouri City, died March 16, 2020. He received his law degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1973.
W. Hampton Beesley, 74, of San Angelo, died February 25, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1972.
Manuel J. Behne Jr., 85, of Richardson, died March 9, 2021. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1968.
James Bell, 80, of Lawn, died October 4, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1995. Bell was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1975.
Lauren J. Bensi, 63, of Spring, died October 19, 2020. She received her law degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1996.
William H. Berry Jr., 83, of Corpus Christi, died March 21, 2021. He received his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1966.
Ray Gilbert Besing, 86, of San Antonio, died April 16, 2021. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1960.
R. James Beylotte, 80, of Pearland, died September 19, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1964.
Jean Bishop, 75, of Decatur, died April 14, 2021. She received her law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980.
Word Gibson Bizzell, 87, of Corsicana, died September 19, 2020. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1981.
Frederick Eugene Black, 58, of League City, died August 26, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1986.
Michael Wilbert Born, 55, of Olathe, Kansas, died December 15, 2020. He received his law degree from Boston University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1992.
Dulcie Diane Brand, 65, of Sugar Land, died March 7, 2021. She received her law degree from George Washington University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1986. Brand was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1981.
Paul Brauchle, 78, of Dallas, died March 28, 2021. He received his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1971.
J. Michael Brock, 64, of New Boston, died December 2, 2020. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1982.
Arlan J. Broussard, 77, of Houston, died May 15, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1988.
Susan Buda, 39, of Austin, died January 11, 2020. She received her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2008. Buda was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 2006.
R.W. Calloway, 86, of Dallas, died May 4, 2021. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1958.
Ramsey Clark, 93, of New York, New York, died April 9, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1951.
Carolyn F. Condos, 72, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, died February 6, 2019. She received her law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1985.
William Coppersmith, 68, of Olathe, Kansas, died May 11, 2020. He received his law degree from Washburn University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1979. Coppersmith was admitted to practice in Kansas in 1978.
Simon C. Cornelius, 95, of Victoria, died September 25, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1958.
Melton D. Cude, 65, of Decatur, died November 29, 2020. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980.
Marshall J. Day, 74, of Fort Worth, died April 14, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1971.
Rose U. Day, 83, of Houston, died April 18, 2021. She received her law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1988.
William J. Demarest, 74, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, died March 24, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1971.
Roger V. Dickey, 71, of McKinney, died December 4, 2020. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1978.
Todd Dillard, 39, of Scottsdale, Arizona, died September 17, 2020. He received his law degree from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2007.
Margaret L. Dillon, 68, of Houston, died November 4, 2020. She received her law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1978.
William P. Dodson, 72, of Hondo, died January 19, 2021. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1974.
Victoria Jeanne Driscoll, 68, of Bethesda, Maryland, died February 8, 2021. She received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1981.
James R. Dunn, 76, of Sherman, died August 30, 2020. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1968.
Travis Fontaine Erksine, 43, of Houston, died April 24, 2021. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2004.
Robert L. Estep, 80, of Rural Retreat, Virginia, died March 28, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1984. Estep was admitted to practice in Illinois in 1973.
Peter Ferraro, 71, of Austin, died November 11, 2020. He received his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980. Ferraro was admitted to practice in Pennsylvania in 1974.
Joseph Harry Fields, 77, of Okemos, Michigan, died August 16, 2018. He received his law degree from Loyola Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1977. Fields was admitted to practice in Tennessee in 1972.
Philip Dayne Freeman, 72, of San Antonio, died December 24, 2019. He received his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1983. Freeman was admitted to practice in Pennsylvania in 1975.
Wallace P. Finfrock, 90, of Dallas, died July 15, 2019. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1951.
Brady Alan Fisher, 68, of Henderson, died July 13, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1977.
Grace Morrow Forderhase, 85, of Garland, died March 22, 2021. She received her law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1985.
Leona M. Franklin, 96, of Houston, died April 2, 2021. She received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1950.
L. Henry Gissel Jr., 83, of Houston, died September 15, 2020. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1961.
Walter Hugh Harrell, 96, of Longview, died March 30, 2021. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1950.
Minor Lovis Helm Jr., 83, of Waco, died May 18, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1961.
Barry Creighton Heslop, 57, of Houston, died April 29, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1992.
Gary Joe Holloway, 54, of Plano, died May 4, 2021. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2001.
Michael Inlow, 78, of Houston, died December 31, 2020. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1967.
James K. Jackson, 79, of Nags Head, North Carolina, died July 14, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1966.
Milton Jackson, 78, of Fairfield, died December 26, 2020. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1974.
Floyd L. Jennings, 80, of Houston, died April 21, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1996.
Lee Jeronimo, 74, of Bothell, Washington, died May 11, 2019. She received her law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1996.
Richard Johnston, 81, of Lewisville, died August 5, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1964.
Christene Jones, 63, of Garland, died April 9, 2021. She received her law degree from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1994.
Edward David Kaplan, 90, of Shavano Park, died January 19, 2020. He received his law degree from Brooklyn Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1989. Kaplan was admitted to practice in New York in 1957.
George Kazen, 81, of Laredo, died April 27, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1961.
Earl R. King, 89, of Weatherford, died December 11, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1960.
Norman Krivosha, 86, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, died January 26, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1990. Krivosha was admitted to the Nebraska Bar in 1958.
Melvin L. Lampley, 71, of Houston, died November 24, 2019. He received his law degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1978.
Richard M. Lannen, 74, of Dallas, died May 1, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1973.
Jonathan L. Le Bleu, 88, of Tyler, died October 25, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1963.
Tommie C. Lee, 79, of Lufkin, died March 30, 2020. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1976.
Lloyd P. Lochridge Jr., 103, of Austin, died April 13, 2021. He received his law degree from Harvard Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1945.
John Robinson Locke Jr., 96, of San Antonio, died September 25, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1949.
Leslie Arletta Lockhart, 43, of Harlingen, died May 17, 2021. She received her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2002.
Murray B. Mangum, 85, of Lago Vista, died November 12, 2020. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1962.
Christopher Marshall, 36, of Houston, died March 17, 2021. He received his law degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2018.
Virginia Ellen Maurer, 57, of San Antonio, died September 19, 2020. She received her law degree from American University Washington College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1991.
John Paul McCall, 92, of Dallas, died May 11, 2021. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1962.
Bernard C. McGuire Jr., 91, of Dallas, died December 23, 2020. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1957.
O. Murray McNeely, 80, of Shallowater, died February 7, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1982. McNeely was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 1967.
Michael Christopher Miller, 49, of Dallas, died December 27, 2020. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2000.
Theodore G. Mishtal, 61, of Austin, died January 4, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1984.
Thomas D. Moore Jr., 66, of Highland Village, died April 15, 2021. He received his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1981.
John B. Morey, 102, of San Antonio, died October 7, 2019. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1957.
C. Robert Morris Jr., 92, of Bloomington, Minnesota, died October 16, 2020. He received his law degree from Yale Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1951.
Stephen Emory Musil, 71, of Haskell, died May 1, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1974.
Richard N. Nelson, 79, of Keller, died September 27, 2020. He received his law degree from George Washington University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1996. Nelson was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1980.
Leo John Peterson III, 77, of Dallas, died November 1, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1968.
R. Leon Pettis, 87, of Beaumont, died February 17, 2021. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1959.
Robert M. Phillips III, 66, of Austin, died March 5, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1979.
James Post, 74, of Rockport, died January 1, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980.
Warren M. Pulner, 93, of El Paso, died March 25, 2021. He received his law degree from Boston University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1973.
Susan Rest Pye, 69, of Houston, died June 13, 2019. She received her law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980.
Carl L. Ray, 86, of New Braunfels, died March 9, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1963.
Robert Jay Reining, 74, of Corpus Christi, died November 23, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1970.
B. Schlesinger Ross, 76, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, died October 18, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1971.
Bruce Sadler, 74, of Amarillo, died December 4, 2020. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1972.
Paul Louis Salzberger, 87, of Dallas, died May 1, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1959.
Thomas W. Sanders, 84, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, died February 23, 2020. He received his law degree from LSU Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1986. Sanders was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1963.
John Anthony Saur, 90, of Sugarland, died May 4, 2021. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1968.
Clay C. Scott Jr., 92, of Addison, died November 7, 2020. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1957.
William M. Schultz, 82, of Houston, died April 12, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1960.
Kimble Scott, 58, of Dallas, died August 25, 2020. He received his law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2012. Scott was admitted to practice in Tennessee in 1988.
Sherwood H. Sheffield, 84, of Waco, died April 23, 2021. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980.
Lynn Alan Shepherd, 73, of Missouri City, died December 15, 2020. He received his law degree from Wayne State University Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1977. Shepherd was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1975.
Edward F. Sherer, 76, of Las Vegas, Nevada, died August 13, 2019. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1979.
Elsie Brown Silverman, 93, died August 4, 2020. She received her law degree from George Washington University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1955.
Stuart Simms, 72, of San Antonio, died September 7, 2020. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1974.
Frank Simonton Jr., 78, of Kingwood, died March 8, 2021. He received his law degree from LSU Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1975. Simonton was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1967.
Thomas John Sims, 75, of Houston, died September 19, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1970.
Emmanuel H. Smith, 81, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, died February 6, 2020. He received his law degree from Harvard Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1964. Smith was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1964.
Bruce Kirk Spindler, 61, of San Antonio, died October 5, 2020. He received his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1989.
Broadus A. Spivey, 84, of Austin, died May 8, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1962.
Chris Stein, 68, of Columbus, died September 16, 2020. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980.
Macon D. Strother, 74, of Houston, died June 13, 2020. He received his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1971.
Bobby Charles Switzer, 80, of Odessa, died April 4, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1965.
David W. Thedford, 65, of Abilene, died April 7, 2021. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1984.
Michael Edward Todd, 69, of Baytown, died December 8, 2020. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1987.
R. Leon Trotter, 68, of Charlotte, North Carolina, died April 24, 2021. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1982.
Joseph Tyler, 41, of Texarkana, died April 25, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2006. Tyler was admitted to practice in Arkansas in 2005.
James Edward Turner Jr., 77, of Otego, New York, died July 29, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1972.
Joe Edwin Ventura, 83, of Georgetown, died December 22, 2020. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1972.
Joanne Meyer Vorpahl, 69, of McQueeney, died April 17, 2021. She received her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1982.
G. Alan Waldrop, 59, of Austin, died May 5, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1987.
James Wallis Jr., 69, of The Woodlands, died February 27, 2021. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1978.
Howard Robert Warwick, 84, of Stephenville, died March 6, 2021. He received his law degree from George Washington University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1962.
Rex H. White Jr., 88, of Austin, died April 4, 2021. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1967.
Wallace W. White Jr., 76, of Houston, died July 13, 2020. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1970.
Thomas N. Williams, 85, of Bossier City, Louisiana, died September 8, 2020. He received his law degree from Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1969.
Richard Wood, 74, of Argyle, died May 13, 2021. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1971.

If you would like to have a memorial for a loved one published in the Texas Bar Journal, please go to texasbar.com/memorials. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Texas Bar Journal at 512-427-1701 or toll-free at 800-204-2222, ext. 1701.

State Bar of Texas Appellate Section seeks nominations for Texas Appellate Hall of Fame

Wed, 06/09/2021 - 12:13

The State Bar of Texas Appellate Section is accepting nominations for the Texas Appellate Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame posthumously honors advocates and judges who made a lasting mark on appellate practice in Texas.

Nominations should include the nominator’s contact information, the nominee’s bio or CV, the nominee’s photo if available, and all the reasons for the nominations (including unique contributions to the practice of appellate law in Texas). The more comprehensive the nomination materials, the better. All material will be sent to the voting trustees for consideration.

Nominations will be considered based upon some or all of the following criteria: written and oral advocacy; professionalism; faithful service to the citizens of Texas; mentorship of newer appellate attorneys; pro bono service; and participation in appellate CLE.

An individual’s nomination in a prior year will not necessarily carry over to this year. If someone was nominated in a prior year, the nomination and nomination materials should be submitted again.

Nominations should be submitted in writing to halloffametx@outlook.com no later than July 15, 2021. The tentative plan is to honor the inductees as part of a luncheon presentation and ceremony held by the Appellate Section on September 2, 2021.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman announces intent to resign effective June 11

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 17:33

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman announced her intent to resign effective June 11, 2021, to Gov. Greg Abbott. She is the court’s senior justice, having served for 22 years.

“Serving the people of Texas at three levels of the judiciary has been the honor of a lifetime,” Guzman said in a press release. “To have the opportunity to apply my conservative judicial philosophy to the most pressing legal issues in Texas has been a genuine privilege. As I begin a new chapter, I pledge to continue to work for Texas families, and I remain dedicated to advancing the rule of law.”

Guzman is the first Latina to be elected to the Texas Supreme Court and the first Latina to be elected to statewide office in Texas. She has served on the 309th District Court of Harris County and the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston.

“Besides her significant contributions to the law of Texas, Justice Guzman has been a powerful and effective advocate for improving access to justice for the poor and others and for developing strategies to enhance our judicial system’s ability to serve adults and children facing mental health and intellectual disability challenges,” Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht said in a press release. “Her exceptional leadership has been a great service to the state of Texas and the Supreme Court of Texas.”

Guzman is chair of the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families and has worked for over a decade with national and state leader safety, permanency, and well-being for Texas’ most vulnerable children and families. She helped found the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health to improve the lives of individuals with mental health needs, substance use problems, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since 2013, Guzman has served as liaison to the Texas Access to Justice Commission.

She serves on the Center for American and International Law Board of Trustees, the South Texas College of Law Houston Board of Trustees, and Duke University School of Law Bolch Judicial Institute’s Leadership Council. Guzman is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a frequent speaker on civic responsibility, civility, and continuing legal education.

Abbott will choose Guzman’s successor. Her current term ends December 31, 2022.

Sponsored Content: Travel Inspires Law Career for SMU Spanish for Legal Professionals Professor

Sun, 06/06/2021 - 23:01

Many language students and professors travel for their studies. Not all find inspiration for seeking a second career in the legal field.

Miroslava “Mira” Detcheva, a Senior Lecturer in Spanish in SMU’s Department of World Languages and Literatures, was inspired to pursue a second career in law while studying in Mexico and traveling throughout Latin America. With a graduate degree in international relations and diplomacy, focusing on Spanish and Latin American Studies, earning a law degree seemed like a logical next step.

“Throughout my entire academic career, I consistently combined language and political studies. My background in international politics and knowledge of several languages and cultures inspired me to pursue a career in immigration law,” Mira Detcheva said.

Once she earned her law degree from SMU’s Dedman School of Law, Mira became a licensed immigration attorney and focused her practice on employment and business immigration law. Her linguistic skills and cultural competence have inspired and impacted her legal practice, and Mira primarily works with Spanish-speaking clients who need representation. Currently, her legal practice focuses on immigrant and non-immigrant visa options, but Mira continues to be interested in the topics of migration and immigration reform.

As an attorney and long-term educator, Mira noticed an opportunity to help other legal professionals serve their Spanish-speaking clients more effectively.

“I have encountered too many legal professionals who were never given the tools to improve their Spanish-language skills,” Mira said. “I understand what is needed to fill this void of proper language training tailored specifically to help the legal professional.”

To fill this void, Mira partnered with SMU’s Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) department to develop the new Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program. The nine-week course was designed to offer an entirely online learning experience, allowing flexibility for attorneys, legal administrators, paralegals and other professionals to advance their Spanish-language skills in contexts specific to the legal field.

In this program, students will learn to use correct pronunciation of Spanish vocabulary and legal terminology, to read documents and complete forms with correct Spanish grammar, and to reflect cultural competence in interactions with individuals from across the Spanish-speaking world.

“[The SMU Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program] is a great opportunity to acquire or enhance Spanish-language skills,” Detcheva said. “The format of the course is flexible, the tools allow for constant practice and instant feedback, and progress is measured by completing hand-on practical assignments.”

Enrollment is now open and online classes begin July 1. The State Bar of Texas has approved the SMU Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit.

For more information about SMU CAPE’s online certificate program, visit smu.edu/legalspanish or call 214-768-1184.

 

TYLA seeks lawyers to judge virtual State Moot Court Competition

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 11:06

The Texas Young Lawyers Association is seeking volunteers to judge the virtual State Moot Court Competition preliminary rounds. Seven law school teams from across the state will compete in the competition on June 15-17 via Zoom.

Judges are needed for the preliminary rounds as follows (all times are CDT):

  • Round 1 – Tuesday, June 15 at 8:30 a.m.
  • Round 2 – Tuesday, June 15 at 11 a.m.
  • Round 3 – Tuesday, June 15 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Round 4 – Tuesday, June 15 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Round 5 – Wednesday, June 16 at 8:30 a.m.
  • Round 6 – Wednesday, June 16 at 11 a.m.
  • Round 7 – Wednesday, June 16 at 2:30 p.m.

Judges will be asked to log in 30 minutes before their scheduled round for check in, instructions, and other pre-round matters. The competition will take about an hour to judge and then about 15-20 minutes for comments.

All materials necessary will be provided prior to the round. Additionally, each attorney may claim CLE self-study credit for being a judge.

If you are interested in judging, please click here to sign up.

Scams continue to target Texas attorneys

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 09:49

Update 6/4/2021: We received reports of two more scams. One was the same as the scam we reported on March 30th. A Texas attorney received an email purportedly from an out of country/out of state individual saying that he had obtained the attorney’s name through “the Bar Referral Services” and asked for help with a contact dispute. When the attorney asked for more information on the nature of the dispute, they received an email from “Buvant Construction Group LLC” stating that the dispute was with “Fastenal Company, United States” concerning an unfulfilled order. The attorney looked into “Buvant” and found that this is a scam.

The other report was from an attorney who was the target of a farm equipment scam. Read the details of the scam from the attorney.

Update 3/30/2021: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received two email scams. One of them was from a “student” who claimed they were referred to the attorney by the “Bar Referral Services.” The other was from someone who claimed they found the attorney on LinkedIn, but the attorney does not currently have a LinkedIn profile. View the scam emails.

Update 2/24/2021: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received an email from someone claiming they hacked the attorney’s computer, installed a virus, had access to the attorney’s computer activity, and threatened to publish it. The scammer demanded bitcoin in order to resolve it. The attorney said to the best of their knowledge their system has not been compromised, and all of the statements made by the sender are untrue. View the scam email.

Update: 2/23/2021: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received an email requesting their assistance in collecting money as the scammer’s client’s next of kin because the attorney has the same last name as the client. View the scam email.

Update: 2/8/2021: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney’s firm was contacted by an architect who claimed he was trying to collect a debt owed to him by a client, and he was seeking their legal representation. After agreeing to send the client a demand, the architect asked the attorney to hold off because the client was interested in paying before suit was filed. The client sent a cashier’s check directly to the firm and payable to the firm for a reduced amount. The architect asked the attorney to deposit the check into their account. He would next have the attorney take their fee out of the amount and send him the rest. The attorney let him know that they don’t accept those, wouldn’t be depositing the check, and asked that his friend wire the money to him directly. The architect wanted the attorney to deposit the check anyway, take out their retainer, and then wire him the rest. The attorney was suspicious and called the “client.” Before the attorney could get their third sentence in, the client stopped them and said it was a scam. The client had been contacted by several lawyers – some of whom caught on, but at least one of whom was scammed. The cashier’s check was of course bad. Therefore, the “architect” was trying to scam money from the attorney and their firm.

Update 12/4/2020: We received a report of another scam. This scam appears to be targeting Texas attorneys practicing employment law. An attorney received a scam email from someone claiming they needed the attorney’s help in receiving severance pay from their employer that they had been promised but never received. There are many indicators in the email and email attachments that the person sending it was not a legitimate potential client. These include the fact that no attorney seems to be involved, the email addresses in the alleged email communications are not correct, the alleged HR person is addressed by both first and last names, the documents contain many spacing and typo errors, the “settlement agreement” is a form that has been filled in, the stationery used is suspect, and the situation described is highly suspicious. Because so many things seemed questionable, the attorney searched for “severance pay scams” online and found that the Florida Bar and the Virginia Bar Association have issued warnings about such scams, and there are numerous articles about similar scams.

Update 9/30/2020: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received a scam email they have seen several times before. In the scam, someone claims that they have a settlement and are looking for an attorney to take over the case. The attorney takes it over and then gets scammed out of money through a bogus wire transfer.

Update 8/19/2020: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received a scam via fax. The fax claims to be from Williams T. Williams, a partner at George & Beaver Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The fax says that a client of theirs was a policy holder with a reputable bank, and the client has passed away. It says he is seeking a partnership with the attorney to claim the policy so they can split 90% of the $11, 030,900 between him and the attorney and donate the other 10% to charity. View a copy of the fax for more details.

Update 8/7/2020: We received notice from the Dallas Bar Association of another scam targeting Texas attorneys. They let us know that the following message went out to their members this morning: Please be aware of an email scam promoting a Gofundme account related to a sick child that is targeting some DBA members. This is NOT from the DBA. If you are questioning the validity of the email, check the email address to which you are replying to make sure it is a legitimate address.

Update 8/6/2020: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney was contacted by someone who is trying to run a bogus check scam on them. The scam usually starts with the scammer sending the attorney a bogus check to be deposited into the attorney’s IOLTA account, purportedly to allow the represented funds to be held in escrow pending a transaction. Then a day or so after the check is deposited, the scammer advises the attorney that the deal has been terminated, and the funds are requested to be returned by the attorney to the scammer. The original check does not clear and is dishonored.

The attorney had several email exchanges with the scammer, was sent the bogus check, and was also emailed (from a different email address) bogus purchase/sale and escrow agreement documents in an attempt to make the transaction appear to be legitimate. View copies of the emails and documents.

The attorney has called the credit union upon which the fraudulent cashier’s check has apparently been issued, and the credit union has confirmed that it is counterfeit. The attorney was told to expect a call from the credit union’s fraud department and will be sending them copies of the documents and emails received.

After the attorney looked into all of the information, they found the email address from which this scam is being run is prevalent in other instances and that the scammer has done this many times before.

Update 7/29/2020: We received a report of another scam. A law firm received an email phishing attempt via a contact form on their website from a person who said they were referred to their firm by “the attorney bar association.” They said that they were requesting legal assistance and asked if the firm handled “sales/purchase agreement.” The person called himself “DON Jim Harrison.” He provided his email address and phone number, and his IP address is in Nigeria. The firm filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and per its guidance also emailed a screen shot of the contact form to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at apwg.org.

Update  7/14/2020: We received reports of two more scams.

A Texas attorney was notified that someone was impersonating them. An Arizona resident was contacted by the Foreign Asset Control to inform him he was appointed a law firm to represent him in a matter in Mexico. This law firm included the Texas attorney, though the law firm does not exist. The person using the attorney’s information had the Arizona victim send him/her money as a part of that representation. All information provided to the Arizona victim was available online, including the attorney’s LinkedIn page photo and bar number.

A Texas attorney reported a scam involving a supposed loose acquaintance of the attorney who lives in Ireland. The attorney has not personally met the person. The acquaintance said he had a referral of his “boss” for a claim for breach of a license contract. The “boss,” a supposed Taiwan company, sent a “contract” and said that the licensee owed past due monies. The attorney sent an engagement letter to the Taiwan company and received a signature of the purported owner/president of the company, but a retainer was not requested. After the engagement letter was received, the Taiwan company notified the attorney that they had told the licensee company that the attorney’s firm was prepping to file suit to claim the amount owed, and the licensee company purported it would pay back the due amount. Within a few days, the attorney received at their law firm a “check” from the licensee company. The check was a large amount, so the attorney contacted the supposed licensee company and questioned whether they had issued the check. The actual company said that it had not issued any check. The Taiwan company has since contacted the attorney’s law firm asking whether the check was received. The Taiwan company said to take legal fees/expenses from the amount and pay the remainder over to the Taiwan company.

Update 7/8/2020: We received an update from the Texas attorney who was being impersonated by someone out of Staten Island, NY. They received another call from their managing partner that it happened again, this time out of Las Vegas, NV. Someone hacked their State Bar page and is misrepresenting them as their attorney. The Texas attorney has never been licensed in Nevada.

Update 6/18/2020:

We received reports of three more scams.

A Texas attorney was recently defrauded out of $15,000 by a supposed client asking for help negotiating and closing the sale of medical ventilators to a hospital in New Mexico. The attorney practices in New Mexico but lives in El Paso and deposited the phony cashier’s check there. The attorney filed a complaint with the FBI. Read the scam details from the attorney.

A Texas attorney received a call at their office that someone was impersonating them out of Staten Island, New York, and the person said they had retained the impersonator to represent them on a New York probate matter. They said the person who referred the attorney to them had represented the referrer’s father’s estate in New York. The attorney is not licensed in New York, and this person has never been a client of theirs. The attorney filed a report with the police department.

A Texas attorney received an email from a person requesting to retain their services for a dog bite claim and also included pictures. The person said the bite occurred when they were in Texas but that they live in Japan. They said the supposed dog owner had agreed to pay a settlement out of court but that they failed to do so. The attorney was never able to reach the supposed client by phone. The attorney then received an email from the supposed dog owner saying they wanted to settle the case out of court and attached a copy of the signed settlement agreement between the two parties. After further investigation into the correspondence, the attorney found that it was a scam.

Update 6/3/2020: We received a report of more scams. A Texas law firm received several emails requesting their services. The scammers used different names but followed similar patterns. They purported to be on behalf of presidents and directors of different companies, two based in Asia and one in New Jersey. The firm tried to verify their identities but was unable to. View copies of the scam emails.

Update 5/29/2020: A Texas attorney reported two more scams. A firm received an email requesting their services and accepted the request. They received a $300,000.00 check, which they deposited, and then sent most of that money via wire transfer to Asia. The check bounced, and the firm notified their bank. They were not able to recover their money. Another scam was sent via text message. An attorney received a text appearing to be an urgent message from their bank. The text said to call the bank immediately and that an unknown subject opened an account with their information and misappropriated money. The attorney called the number given, which appears to be real, and reached an automated message. The message asked them to verify their bank account information, which included their checking account number, credit card numbers, card security code, and last four digits of their social security number. They verified all of the information via the automated message. The attorney’s bank account was reduced to almost zero, their credit cards were maxed out, and a new credit card had been requested to be sent to a different address. These scams also targeted attorneys in Massachusetts.

Update 2/20/20: Attorneys continue to receive the Compass Upstream Services scam emails.  A Maryland attorney received one from Harry Jones, and a Michigan attorney received one from Jacob Taylor. The email language is identical, with different names used for the vice president, customer, and bank on the check.

2/13/2020:

Update 2 –

A Tennessee attorney and another California attorney were targets of the Compass Upstream Services scam.

The Tennessee attorney reported that they were contacted by vice president Harry Jones. They were suspect of the initial email but did attempt to send correspondence in the mail, which was returned. They attempted a phone call, but no one answered, and the ring and voicemail was “off.”

The California attorney provided further details about the scam they received.

The client phone calls tended to last 3-5 minutes in length, and they were very quick to jump off the phone with little detail being discussed.

After the attorney received a $200,000.00 cashier’s check which was meant to be a deposit for travel and inspection fees for an engineer the leasing broker was to hire, the client contacted the attorney approving of some of the deal points and instructing them to deposit the check. The client also stated that the payment to the engineering company doing the inspection, hired by the broker, would need to be expedited to the next day given how quickly the project was progressing. The attorney explained the limitations of this arrangement to the client and also followed up on a number of factual issues they had discovered and asked for an explanation. No response was forthcoming.

None of the companies involved appear to have any online footprint or exist on their state’s secretary of state websites. The attorney also contacted the supposed leasing company, Pacific Coast Energy Company. They had no idea who the client was, who their supposed broker was, or that any lease was anticipated.

The client insists on payment being deposited and a check cut the next day which the attorney anticipates will be before the funds have cleared or been deposited in the account, although the attorney did not deposit the check to find out. They would venture a guess that the check is not good and that the payment would have been issued well before this fact was discovered, leaving the attorney holding the bag with a trust account now light on funds.

Update 1 –

We received a report from a Dallas attorney who was contacted by a person claiming to represent a debt collection company in Florida. The person requested the attorney’s assistance in recovering a debt from a company based in Texas. The email asked the attorney to send a demand letter for the debt collection to the company. After the demand letter, the person called the attorney stating the company had just sent them a portion of the debt. The person told the attorney they would mail them the debt payment check to cash and for the attorney to take his portion of the fees. The caller asked the attorney to then wire back the remainder of the money. A fellow attorney who had received the email said it claimed to have been from the Dallas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service but it was not sent in the regular way for a referral.

Update: 2/11/20: We received three more reports from out of state attorneys who received the Compass Upstream Services, LLC scam emails. A New Jersey attorney received an email from Harry Jones. View the email chains and documents, which include an email from the supposed broker and a letter of intent, to a California attorney from Ryan Johnson and to a Utah attorney from Danny Gibson.

Update 2/7/20: We received reports from four more attorneys who received scam emails from Compass Upstream Services, LLC. The attorneys targeted are in California, Maryland, Michigan, and Virginia/Washington D.C. The emails came from vice presidents of the company using the names Harry Cooper, Harry Jones, Ryan Johnson, and Scott Carter. View one of the email chains.

Update 2/5/20: We received reports from two more attorneys who received the same scam as the one we reported on January 27, with slight variations in the emails they received. The emails were also from Compass Upstream Services, LLC out of Austin, TX, soliciting help in drafting an equipment lease agreement but were were from a vice president Ryan Johnson. One attorney called the telephone number from the email and website, and no one answered. The call went to an automated voicemail that had a strange sounding ring. There were two different email addresses, a comcast.com email address and a compassupstreamservices.com email address, used for Ryan Johnson in the emails that another attorney received.

Update 1/27/20: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a person named James Marshall, who claimed to be with a company called Compass Upstream Services LLC, based out of Texas. In his email, the scammer stated that his company was going to lease drilling equipment to another Texas company, at the rate of $65,000 per day, and he wanted to know if the attorney could write the lease agreement. In the scammer’s email, he said he needed an attorney in “your state,” which the attorney assumes means Texas.

The attorney was suspicious of the email and found no record of the scammer’s LLC being registered in Texas. The attorney checked the ICANN database for the scammer’s domain name. As of Saturday, the scammer’s domain name and website did not exist, but they do exist as of today. The attorney inspected the scammer’s website, www.compassupstreamservices.com, and found that it looks like an exact copy of the website of another oil company, www.marriottdrilling.com.

Update 11/14/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a Japanese company named Kuraray Co. Ltd, which appears to be a real company. The email used a fake email address, and stated that the Japanese company had a claim against a Grand Prairie company for unpaid invoices and wanted to hire the attorney. The attorney ignored the email but eventually received a fake settlement check that appeared to come from the Grand Prairie company, but the check was mailed from Canada. The attorney was invited to deposit the check and take out the attorney’s fee, even though the attorney never negotiated or requested the fee. The attorney took the check to their bank, and the bank spotted several problems with the check and confirmed it was fake, as did the real Grand Prairie company. UPDATE 7/23/2020: According to information received on 7/23/2020, Kuraray Co., Ltd., is a legitimate business with no control over or connection with online scamming.  

Update 9/18/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a scammer using the name of a law firm from Texas but with an email using a domain address from Australia: bully34351@tpg.com.au. The email states that the attorney is being sued by the scammer’s client, must download a link to find out the details of the “immense psychological suffering” the attorney caused with their words, and that the scammer and the client will see the attorney in court.

Update 9/3/2019: A Texas attorney today reported that someone falsely claiming to represent the State Bar of Texas called her to request payment of bar fees. The call came from the number 888-270-4815, which is not associated with the State Bar. Fortunately, the attorney realized she was being targeted by a scam and reported it to the bar. Legitimate messages regarding State Bar of Texas fees will come via mail or email from the State Bar Membership Department. Attorneys can contact the Membership Department at 800-204-2222 (ext. 1383) or memmail@texasbar.com to verify whether a communication is from the State Bar.

Update 6/27/2019: We received reports of two more scams. An attorney reported two scams he has received via email. In the first one and the one he receives most often, he receives an email from “Alexis Berger.” The email generally contains the following information: “I am seriously in need of your legal assistance. i lent my brother-in-law some money and has refused to pay back i checked your profile and find your firm capable of assisting me in my legal issue. Here is my email address alexisberger231@gmail.com. Mr Alexis Berger.”  The email address usually varies by the numbers at the end of the scammer’s name and is always at gmail.com. This scam has also been reported by numerous attorneys in the United States and Canada. The second email the attorney received is an email from “Shin Okura” with Tokai Electronics, a Japanese company, apparently looking to bring a claim against a local Houston company for unpaid invoices. Invoices and documents were also provided which looked very suspicious and altered. This scam has also been reported by law firms in Canada.

Update 6/24/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was contacted by a scammer who requested to retain the attorney’s representation for a dog bite case. The scammer claimed they were bit by a dog, that the dog’s owner had agreed to pay a settlement for medical expenses, and that the dog owner had not yet paid. The attorney was also contacted by the person claiming to be the dog owner, who was part of the scam. The dog owner claimed to want to pay the settlement to the scammer through the attorney and out of court. The scammer also used photos from a news story in the UK that they claimed showed the dog bite. This same scam has been reported in other states, with the scammer using different cities where the dog bite incident occurred.

Update 5/31/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was recently made aware that an unknown individual going by the name Simon Grant has stolen the attorney’s name, bar number, and publicly available contact information. The scammer contacts victims by email and is using the attorney’s information to defraud individuals by claiming to be the attorney or be employed by the attorney. The scammer also created a false website which has since been taken down.

Update 3/13/19: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received an email inquiry for a new case through the attorney’s firm website. The scammer requested to retain the firm for help in getting repayment for a loan. A copy of the supposed loan agreement was sent to the firm. The address used for the loan borrower is local to the firm’s location. The address the scammer listed as their own is located in Hong Kong. The scammer used the name Mr. Zhang Chang. A similar scam by someone with that name was previously reported by two Ontario law firms.

Update 1/30/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney recently received an email that is part of an ongoing scam directed to attorneys in which the scammer is attempting to get the attorney to wire real funds after receiving fraudulent payments (bad checks or fake credit cards). The text of the email is as follows:

Hello,

I am in need of your legal assistance regarding a breach of loan agreement I provided a friend of mine in the amount of $750,000. He needed this loan to complete an ongoing project he was handling last year. He now resides in your jurisdiction and the loan was for 24 months with interest accrued at the rate of 7.5%. The capital and interest were supposed to be paid May last year but he has only paid $50,000 which was in October.

Please let me know if this falls within the scope of your practice, so that I can provide you with the loan documents and any further information you need to know.

Thanks,

Scott Steinberg.

Update 1/25/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas law firm received an inquiry through their website asking if they could draw up a contract for the sale of used construction heavy equipment. The firm responded asking for more details, and the “seller” in Florida sent a detailed appraisal and photograph of the equipment, complete with serial number and a signed letter of intent from a buyer in Texas. The “seller”, “buyer,” and “broker” information all checked out online in Florida, and the “buyer” information also checked out on the Texas Secretary of State website. All were legitimate businesses involved in that type of transaction.

The “seller” signed the engagement letter and sent a paper check from New York that looked legitimate and appeared to be issued by the “buyer.” The firm deposited the check into their trust account. Later that week, the “seller” asked them to wire part of the funds for an inspection of the equipment. Because the check hadn’t cleared the firm’s bank and the wire was to a location in Asia, the firm didn’t send the money, and they inspected further.

The firm called the “seller” who answered using the name of the legitimate Florida businessman. He provided a number during that call that went to a recorded voicemail matching the “broker” details. They called a phone number from the broker’s website, and the real broker answered and said they were the second firm that week to call him (the other was from Delaware), that a scammer had ripped off his letterhead and information, and that he was not involved in any transaction like they described. The firm also contacted the “buyer” using an independent number they found, and the local person who answered said that he ran a legitimate business but was not buying any equipment and knew nothing of the transaction.

The firm contacted their bank, and the bank president contacted the issuing check bank. The issuing check bank was a real bank, but the check and account number with that bank were phony.

Update 11/15/2017: We have received a report of another scam. A person in Australia was contacted by a scammer using a Texas attorney’s information. The person who was contacted was scammed previously and lost money, and he believes it is the same scammers who are contacting him again. In the emails, the scammers say they can recover the person’s money for him from a company, Norton Pearce Associates, that has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Update 9/13/17: We have received a report of another scam. A person in New York received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson, who lives in Texas. She was told that he was in jail and needed bail money. They told her to call (877) 386-6064 for the Bradford Law Firm and ask for attorney Allen Roberts. The phone number has been disconnected, and the Texas attorney Allen Roberts is deceased.

Update 7/13/17: We received a report from an attorney who was contacted through their firm Facebook page and by e-mail by someone who claims that the attorney represents them in a lawsuit in Kenya. The person is not a client of the firm, and they have no record of any previous communication with the person.

Update 6/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys. An attorney received a scam email seeking representation to draft a purchase and sales agreement for a boat sale. The scammer sent the email using another attorney’s name in the email address. View the scam email attachment.

Update 5/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys.

A lawyer received a call from someone purporting to be from the State Bar of Texas. The caller, who identified the date the lawyer was admitted to practice law in Texas, offered the attorney a half-year free membership and listed associated benefits. After the attorney refused and ended the conversation, the caller attempted to contact another lawyer in his office but was stopped by the receptionist.

The State Bar of Texas Membership Department does not call attorneys with special offers for membership dues.

Update 5/4/17: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

A law firm received emails from a person asking to hire the firm to collect payment for goods provided to a third party. The firm also received an email from the third party. Both emails were fake. The firm also received a check as a retainer, and upon verification with the Canadian bank listed on the check, confirmed it was fake. View the scam emails and fraudulent check.

Another law firm received several scam emails within a few days of each other from different senders from locations in Europe, the Netherlands, Africa, and the United States. The emails were requests for various legal services including help with a real estate loan default, seeking assistance with an investment, and drafting a purchase and sales agreement for a drilling rig. The firm also received a fake out of office reply email from a sender they did not contact.

Update 4/17/17: We received a report of another scam in which a law firm’s accounting department received an email purporting to be from the president of the firm, instructing them to pay a statement for $19,500 for professional service. When accounting requested more information, the president responded that the email was not from him. The address it appeared to come from was exeuva@comcast.net.

Update 4/11/2017: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

An attorney received a phishing email. He tried to open an email which appeared to be from a referring attorney sending documents via DocuSign. Over 20 people on his contact list also received the email. The hackers sent out thousands of fake emails to his contacts which appeared to be coming from him. The hackers also responded to inquiries from his contacts questioning if the phishing email was legitimate.

Another attorney received a fraudulent check. He received a $400,000 check that cleared his bank and was told it was part of a $1,000,000 deal. He also received a second payment. He received instructions to deduct his fee and wire the remaining funds to Kenya. He called his bank to verify the check. The check had a name and address on it that appeared to belong to an oil company but was that of a U.S. insurance company.

Update 3/9/2017: We have received a report of a phishing scam targeting Texas attorneys. The scammer stated they were seeking legal counsel. View a copy of the scam email.

Update: 2/23/17: We have received reports of another scam email targeting Texas attorneys. Some attorneys have received emails that appear to be coming from another attorney. It appears that the scammer was able to access attorneys’ email address books for the purpose of forwarding the e-mail from one attorney to another giving the appearance that it is a referral. It is apparently a scam enlisting attorneys to prepare legal documents upon receiving a cashier’s check deposited in trust accounts with an overpayment of legal fees being returned to the scammer from the attorney’s trust account. The initial payment is fraudulent.

Law firms in Canada and the UK have received similar e-mails.

The scam emails are coming from the following accounts with the name Tijmen Smit: systemspecified@yahoo.com and jamescrosbyhalifax@yahoo.co.uk.

Update: 9/23/16: A San Antonio lawyer has notified the State Bar of Texas that he received a fraudulent check as part of an attempted scam. View the fraudulent check and scam letter.

Update 2/26/16: We received a report about another fraudulent check scam targeting attorneys.

Update 2/3/16: We received a report of a new scam targeting clients of attorneys. Scammers are “spoofing” phone numbers of attorneys and calling clients to get money. Read the full story.

Update 10/23/15: The State Bar of Texas has been alerted to a potential email scam involving a debt collection. On October 20, a Fort Sam Houston attorney received an email from a sender who claimed that she had lent a sum of money to a borrower, and that the borrower had not yet repaid the loan in full and had since moved to Texas. The sender claimed she was seeking legal assistance in the matter and requested information about the attorney’s fees. The message also included a copy of two checks (here and here) and an alleged loan agreement promissory note.

Update 10/8/15: We received a recent report of a scam targeting attorneys. An attorney was contacted by a company and received a bogus check. Read the details on this fraudulent check scam.

Update 2/26/15. We have received a report of a scam from an attorney who received a request for assistance. She spoke on the phone to the proposed client, who asked that a buyer send the firm a 15 percent deposit from a purchase price to use as a retainer, that the firm bill their fees against it, and return the remainder to the client. Upon further searching, the attorney uncovered a scam.

Update 6/4/14. We received a report this week about a sophisticated scam involving collection with a fraudulent certified check that has affected at least three Texas attorneys. Read the details here. 

10/18/13. We received a report today that the name of a San Antonio law firm is being used in a debt collection scam, where scammers apparently obtained files from a payday loan company. The scammers are calling people all over the country, saying they are with the law firm, and threatening the people with arrest if they do not immediately pay their debts. Law enforcement and the Secret Service in San Antonio are investigating the matter.

9/17/13

Texas attorneys should be extra-vigilant regarding potential scams involving fraudulent checks or wire transfers. These scams are increasing in sophistication, sometimes involving innocent third parties who seek legal services at the request of a scam artist.

The bottom line is this: Never issue a check from a trust account until deposited funds have been collected.

Scam scenarios include:

  • a request for help in collecting a divorce settlement from an ex-spouse
  • unsolicited email requests for legal help collecting money or judgments, sometimes apparently coming from actual professionals whose identities have been stolen
  • a real estate transaction for an overseas client (whose identity was stolen by a scam artist) involving an innocent third-party realtor
  • impersonation of law firms by scam artists who issue bogus checks and attempt to charge a fee for the checks to clear
  • a bogus check received by a law firm, purportedly for payment regarding representation of an inmate
  • impersonation of a lawyer and law firm by a scammer “collecting debts” under the attorney’s name

Again, be vigilant and do not disburse funds from your accounts until underlying funds have cleared your bank (and not simply been made “available”).

Cases involving bank fraud are investigated by the Secret Service. If you are targeted, contact an office in your area. Internet fraud should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If a scam has targeted you or your firm, please leave a comment below describing the scenario or tactics the scammer used.

Pages